List Price: $4,375,000

The Property: Not only is this elegant ten-room mansion situated in upscale Lake Forest, but it sits in the most prestigious part of town, a neighborhood known as VELF: Very East Lake Forest. But in 2005, when Dan and Wanda O’Rourke bought the place for $2.9 million, the house was showing its “age.” Built in 1990, it lacked some of the craftwork and amenities now expected in a residence in the uppermost price range. The crown moldings, door casements, and other millwork were too slim, and in the master bathroom, the toilet did not have a separate toilet room-de rigueur in today’s high-end homes.

Before coming to the North Shore, the O’Rourkes had lived in London, Hong Kong, and other cities as Dan O’Rourke pursued his career with the investment-banking firm Goldman Sachs. When he was posted to New York, Wanda and the couple’s second son moved to the Lake Forest mansion so they could be near relatives in Grayslake for the boy’s last few years in high school. That’s when Wanda took on what she calls “my project”: updating and upgrading the house. Among other things, she commissioned extensive new millwork and an impressive staircase, added a double-island kitchen, and redid all five bathrooms. Needless to say, the master bath now includes a toilet room.

Price Points: With a plan to move to Florida (where they have several relatives), the O’Rourkes put Wanda’s finished project up for sale four months ago. With the input of their agent, Susan Richardson, they initially priced the house at $4,575,000, and though it got lots of attention, says Richardson, there was no action-and cutting the price hasn’t drawn much business either. Richardson has assessed the competition in this exclusive Lake Forest neighborhood and is surprised that her clients haven’t fared better. “You have more than an acre of land and a pool, and you’re close to the elementary school, the high school, and the lake,” she says. “There is nothing like this location. In a good market, like two years ago, this house would have been gone-bingo.” 

Listing Agent: Susan Richardson, Coldwell Banker Previews, (847) 735-7652